New Mandala just received an open letter from a group who called themselves “Thai Citizens Against Dictatorship”. Breaking up the silence that has been all over Thailand since the 22 May Coup, the letter read as follows:
As Thai citizens, we are writing to make clear that the military junta’s Interim Constitution does not represent our will, nor does it represent the will of the Thai people as a whole. It is no one’s rules, but the junta’s own. We regard the Interim Constitution as Thailand’s most anti-democratic constitution in half a century. We condemn it emphatically on three points.
1. The Interim Constitution is an attempt to entrench dictatorial rule in a permanent constitution, and force-feed it to the population.
Under the Interim Constitution, the new, permanent constitution will be drafted and voted through only by bodies appointed by the junta. It will not go through a popular referendum. Such an undemocratic origin will not give rise to a democratic content. The population will be force-fed with a permanent constitution that continues the junta’s authoritarianism, only in a permanent form. This is all the more abominable because it is done in the name of “reform” for a better democracy.
2. The Interim Constitution abolishes civil and human rights, and redefines arbitrary use of force as rule of law.
Rights are rights only when they cannot be arbitrarily violated. While Section 4 of the Interim Constitution says that basic civil rights of citizens must be protected, it also says that these rights are subject to constitutional provisions, which includes the provision that gives the junta absolute power to issue any arbitrary order as law (Section 44). With this recognition of arbitrary use of force as legitimate, the mention of rights is meaningless. No rights are actually protected at all. In this sense, the Interim Constitution pretends to protect civil rights, when in truth it abolishes them. At the same time, in an Orwellian move, the Interim Constitution redefines arbitrary use of force as rule of law.
3. The Interim Constitution grants the junta impunity for their past, present and future crimes.
The Interim Constitution grants the junta impunity from “any guilt or responsibility whatsoever for any illegal act committed before, during, or after [the military coup on] 22 May 2014” (Section 48). Pretending that they are bringing peace, order and happiness, the junta give themselves a wild card to continue, or even escalate, their human rights violations without ever being held responsible.
We call on the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to immediately repeal the Interim Constitution, so as to annul impunity, protect civil and human rights, and allow for the permanent constitution to be drafted by an elected body and approved by the people in a free, fair and inclusive referendum.
Thai Citizens Against Dictatorship, 1 August 2014